Italy’s Political Crisis: Why Italians might be forced to the polls again after Renzi’s shock move

By Thomas Judge

ITALY has once again been thrust into turmoil as the ruling coalition lost its majority in the nations parliament. 

This development comes due to Matteo Renzi the centrist Italia Viva party exiting the coalition over disagreements over the Italian recovery for the Pandemic and accepting cheap loans to cover health care costs from the EU.

This marks the second time in this parliamentary term that a major upheaval has happened at the top of the Italian government.

Given this crisis during a turbulent time in Italy, Redaction Politics has analysed the history of the turmoil – and how Italians might vote again at the ballot box.

The First Crisis

Italian politics has been particularly tempestuous in this parliament, with two different administration being formed under the same independent prime minister, Giuseppe Conte. 

The first, made up of a coalition between the Five Star Party and the far-right League, collapsed after League tabled a no-confidence vote, nominally over high-speed rail construction, but possibly to force an early election which they believed they would win. 

However, the prime minister resigned, forcing new talks on government formation which led to the current government formation, which is nominally more on the centre-left but made up of a broader range of parties.  

However, this grouping has not been stable. Viva Italia, formed in September 2019 by former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi after he split from the Democratic Party, still remained part of the governing coalition. 

They were a minor part of the partnership, only delivering 30 seats compared to the populist Five Star Movement’s 191, and the social-democratic Democratic Party’s 92.

On Wednesday morning Renzi indicated he would be open to return to the coalition if concessions were made, while government insiders say Conte is looking to build a ‘alternate majority’ with other members of parliament.”

What Next?

Like many others, the country is currently in the dual crisis of fight a pandemic while simultaneously trying to mitigate a recession and then plan for recovery, what could happen next. 

Luigi Scazzieri, who holds a PhD in European politics from Kings College London, and works for the Centre for European Reform Think Tank, told Redaction Politics that there are four immediate possibilities:

“The first is that Conte remains PM, with Renzi’s MPs being replaced by ‘responsible’ MPs and/or Berlusconi,” he said.

“Second, Conte steps down as PM, but the governing coalition remains the same. Third, it is not impossible that Conte remains PM, and Renzi part of the coalition.

“Lastly, the formation of a government of national unity, with a broader majority than the current one.” 

There are still a number of paths that could open up for the current government formation, with or without the current prime minister.  

A Fresh Election 

Given this parliament’s wild nature, it does not seem out of the question that fresh election could solve these new impasses. 

However, Dr Scazzieri argued that “new elections are unlikely as the government parties (5Star, Renzi, PD) would be trounced.

“Instead, Matteo Salvini’s League and its allies would be likely to prevail.”

The most up to date polling mirror this, giving the League a large lead.  

However, if any of the solutions outlined do not come to pass, then the countries president may be forced to call elections. 

Featured Image: Governo @WikimediaCommons

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